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James Woolsey Returns to Run CIA—In a Musical Comedy (Yes, I'm Serious.)

R. James Woolsey, 16th Director of Central Intelligence
Source: CIA
R. James Woolsey, 16th Director of Central Intelligence

James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA under Bill Clinton, is returning to his old role—this time in a musical comedy.

No, you don't need to check the date: It's not an April Fools' joke. Woolsey, who is now involved in the venture capital world, will be playing the role of CIA director in select performances of a new musical called 'John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!'

Earlier today I spoke with Michael Garin, the show's producer and co-composer/lyricist.

Garin says of the new show: "It's about a wayward Jewish U2 pilot who crash lands in the mythical Kingdom of Fawzi Arabia—where the prince has just been cut from the Notre Dame football team. In order to restore the families honor, the hero is forced to coach the Fawzi football team to victory in an exhibition game against Notre Dame. If they don't beat them, the hero and his U2 spy plane get shipped to the Soviet Union—and America looses the Cold War."

Think of it as Syriana meets The Marx Brothers.

Woolsey will be playing Heinous Overreach—the cleverly named head of the CIA. "It's taken the concept of casting coup to an unprecedented height," Garin said.

Geopolitical satire isn't exactly the traditional stuff of Broadway shows. As Garin explains: "Belly dancing, football, peace in the Middle East: This is what happens when straight guys write a musical." He added, "American football brings the world together. Love everybody—except the Dallas Cowboys."

Garin and Woolsey first met at a party on the West Coast. There happened to be a piano, and Garin played Woolsey a song from a new show he was working on. And, as Garin tells the story, "James Woolsey sang Dixie Chicken." (Dixie Chicken: The CIA has secrets I could never imagine.)

"It just sounded like an outrageously delicious idea. It brings much needed humor to a part of the world that could use it more than anywhere else," Garin said.

Despite the avant-garde premise, the show comes from a writing team with a track record of mainstream critical success: Michael Garin and his two co-composer/lyricists, Erik Frandsen and Robert Hipkens, have won Drama Desk Awards. Bill Blatty, who wrote the book for the new show, won an Oscar for writing the blockbuster 1973 horror film 'The Exorcist'. (Blatty also wrote the novel on which the musical is based -- as well as a screenplay for a 1965 film adaptation of the book, which starred Shirley MacLaine, but was little seen at the time due to a defamation suit filed by Notre Dame, because the movie portrayed its Fighting Irish football players drinking wine and cavorting with belly dancers.)

Speaking of track records, what's it like to work with a former Director of CIA on a musical comedy? Garin deadpans: "I'm sorry: I'm not at liberty to discuss that."

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